Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

Backpacker Adventure Guide: Weminuche Wilderness

Try a stunning new hike–or two thrilling classics–in the Colorado Rockies' top spot for big backpacking adventures.

More Weminuche Hikes

Lobo to Fourmile Ridge

Start high and stay high on this Continental Divide traverse.

This 36.5-mile hike stays at or above timberline for most of its course around the Cimarron Creek headwaters in Weminuche’s southeastern corner. Beginning at 11,800 feet near Wolf Creek Pass, it follows the CDT north, then west along high ridges to Piedra Pass. Minimal climbing makes this stretch feasible even for flatlanders. From the Piedra River headwaters, you climb south on the Turkey Creek Trail across benchlands with excellent views of rugged Red Mountain, and fine camping at scenic Turkey Creek Lake. Along the way, keep an eye out for large elk herds in the Puerto Blanco region. From there, drop through an increasingly lush, timbered valley on the Fourmile Trail, passing several gigantic waterfalls before ending your journey in aspen groves north of Pagosa Springs. Budget at least four days.

The Way

Begin at Lobo Overlook, beneath the radio towers atop Wolf Creek Pass, north of Pagosa Springs on US 160. End at Fourmile trailhead: From Main Street in Pagosa Springs, turn north onto N. 5th Street, which turns into Fourmile Road; go 12.5 miles to road’s end.

Map

Trails Illustrated 140 Weminuche Wilderness. USGS topos Wolf Creek Pass, South River Peak, Palomino Mountain, and Pagosa Peak

Waypoints

13S 0334202E 4154775N Spotted Lake, scenic camp for first night

13S 0322250E 4154191N Red Mountain panoramas; watch for elk

13S 0319533E 4145773N Views of huge waterfalls & Eagle Mountain

West Needles Wilderness Area

Summit a handful of rugged 13ers while basecamping at timberline tarns for a weekend or more.

The massive, metamorphic West Needle Mountains form the core of a 28,740-acre parcel of land added to the Weminuche Wilderness in 1995. From Molas Pass, you get an excellent overview of this pristine alpine landscape, which glaciers scraped into a wildland of aesthetic rock slabs and pocket lakes. Four 13,000-foot peaks–Snowdon, Twilight, North Twilight, and West Needle–makes this a peakbagger’s paradise. The six-mile approach trail ends at popular Crater Lake, but there’s plenty of lonelier low-impact camping among slabs dotted with ponds in the miles beyond. Adventurous hikers can depart the Crater Lake approach trail and strike cross-country 1.3 miles to isolated lakes west of Snowdon Peak. Another scenic and adventurous trip is to cross the saddle east of Crater Lake and traverse southwest to an unnamed pond in Twilight Cirque. There you’ll get a primo balcony view east across the Animas River Gorge to the main Needles Range. Short trips don’t get any better than this.

Page 6 of 8« First...45678

Leave a Reply